Agro-forestry, fisheries exports to US, EU hit by Covid-19 pandemic

With Viet Nam’s main agro-forestry and fisheries export markets after China such as the US and Europe being hit by the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Vietnamese exporters are suffering.

 

Nguyen Dinh Tung, chairman and CEO of Vina T&T Group, which exports fresh fruits to several demanding markets, said fruit exports by air to the US and EU were down 70-80 per cent since many airlines had stopped flights.

"Shipments by sea are relatively stable but customs clearance in importing countries is expected to be prolonged because workers and officials are absent from work due to the pandemic, which could affect the goods quality.

“Therefore, at least in the next one month, vegetable and fruit exports to these markets will drop sharply."

After that the export situation would depend entirely on how the countries control the pandemic, he said.

His company now exports only three items, coconut, longan and durian, because they last long, and temporary stops exporting other fruits.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, general secretary of the Viet Nam Fruits and Vegetable Association, said most fruits and vegetables were exported in fresh form and by air.

The sector must improve storage and packaging technologies to enable the products to last over 30 days so that they could be shipped to Europe and the US by sea, he added.

Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said the main seafood export markets such as China, the US, the EU, Japan, and South Korea had all been hit by Covid-19.

In the first two months of the year seafood exports were worth nearly US$935 million, down 15.9 per cent from the same period in 2019, with exports to China down by 46.8 per cent to $80 million, and to the EU by 17.4 per cent to $106 million and to South Korea by 16 per cent to $90 million.

According to VASEP, shrimp exporters expect the China market to recover in April and will focus on shipping by sea.

Pangasius exports to China are expected to recover by 70 per cent in May and fully recover in June.

Exporters will restrict exports to China through intermediaries and outsourcing to avoid oversupply.

In the case of non-essential items such as wood and wood products, demand could slump at a time like this. According to the Viet Nam Timber and Forest Products Association (VIFOREST), exports of timber and timber products will plummet in the next three months, especially to the country’s five key export markets that are severely affected by the pandemic.

The five are the US, EU, China, Japan and South Korea, which buy nearly 90 per cent of the country’s total exports.

Importers in these markets have informed suppliers in Viet Nam they would delay or stop buying or defer payment.

According to insiders, agricultural exports in the first two months of the year were estimated at $5.34 billion, down 2.8 per cent year-on-year.

If the Government and related ministries did not provide timely support, the sector’s export prospects were very gloomy, they said.

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